Higher ed study results are deeply disturbing

Stefanie Botelho's picture
Monday, August 4, 2014

A recent report from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania sheds important and disturbing new light on racial and gender inequality in higher education.

Pretending to be students, Professor Katherine Milkman and her colleagues emailed 6,500 professors at 259 of the nation's top colleges and universities requesting a meeting to discuss research opportunities before applying to a doctoral program. Each message was identical. The only variables were the senders' names, deliberately chosen to suggest an ethnicity and gender (e.g. Brad Anderson, Lamar Washington, Latoya Brown, Sonali Desai, Mei Chen).

Here are the results in Milkman's own words: Professors "ignored requests from women and minorities at a higher rate than requests from white males. We see a 25 percentage point gap in the response rate to Caucasian males versus women and minorities." The results of this experiment are deeply disturbing not only in and of themselves, but because they appear to be a case of "do as I say not as I do."

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